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Case Number 25794

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The Bible (Blu-ray)

Fox // 2013 // 561 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Patrick Naugle // June 8th, 2013

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All Rise...

Crucifixtion? Yes, Judge Patrick Naugle will assist you. Line on the left, one cross each.

The Charge

The world's best selling book is now an epic mini-series!

Opening Statement

History Channel decided to test the faith (or at least the endurance) of Christians everywhere, by airing the ten hour spectacle The Bible. Produced by Survivor creator Mark Burnett and wife/actor Roma Downey (Touched by an Angel), this epic mini-series makes its way to high definition care of Fox Home Entertainment.

Facts of the Case

Follow along as The Bible takes us on a trip through the creation of the world and the Garden of Eden, through the tribulations of Abraham, the majesty of Moses freeing his people, and the awe inspiring life of the savior of the world, Jesus Christ! God's word is given new life with awesome visuals, spectacular storytelling, and a scope that's heretofore unseen on cable television!

The Evidence

This the Cliffs' Notes version of God's word. Since bringing the Good Book to the screen would take weeks (if not months) worth of film, producers Mark Burnett and Roma Downey were forced to condense the Old and New Testaments into one sweeping tale. This effort proves to be both a blessing and a curse. While The Bible tends to skip over certain aspects many Christians may find crucial, the truncated format allows the film to move at a clipped, brisk pace, which means we aren't bored for long.

If I'm being honest, the old time Hollywood Biblical epics are often a snooze-fest. While many of them look impressive, they're often mired in wordy scripts with scenes that stretch on endlessly (see The Ten Commandments). I love watching a movie that delves into both history and religion, but when they hew so close to the text, things have a tendency to get bogged down. That said, I was fairly impressed with History's The Bible. For a project made on a relatively small budget ($22 Million), it looks pretty darn good. The sets are lavish, the production values high, and the acting more than serviceable. I was far more engaged than I'd anticipated, and that was a pleasant surprise.

Some viewers may not like the way The Bible crams in the entire text—from Genesis to Revelations—into ten hours. While that may seem like a long time (and sometimes feels like it), the compressed narrative doesn't allow enough time to really delve into certain aspects of the Bible. Because of this, the stories we do see are either skipped over altogether, shown as briefly as possible, or focused to the point where it feels like some stories are entire mini-movies. For instance, the tale of Genesis—Creation, Adam and Eve, Noah's Ark—are shown in what is essentially a quick montage. When we get to the story of Abraham, things slow down considerably to allow the characters to breathe. From there, the story picks up and moves over to Moses, and the New Testament, and the life of Jesus Christ where—not surprisingly—it stays for quite some time.

The segments with Jesus are far more moving than I'd anticipated. Because a reality television producer and the star of Touched by an Angel were involved, I half expected The Bible to be weighed down with cheese and schmaltz. Imagine my surprise when these sections of the film offered more grace, hope, and drama than I ever thought possible. Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado plays Jesus in the way most will expect, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. An experience like The Bible doesn't need any The Last Temptation of Christ controversy to make it work. Those wondering how the crucifixion is handled, the good news is you won't have to wince as you did watching Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ; flayed skin and exposed ribcages are nowhere to be seen. Both Jesus' death and resurrection are shown in a way that inspires both hope and faith.

Presented in 1.78:1/1080p high definition widescreen, the transfer on each installment is free from any major defects or imperfections; colors are bright and striking, while black levels are solid. While the visual fidelity may not be up to the level of Iron Man 3, Fox offers up a very nice presentation. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is very aggressive and well thought out, for a television presentation. There are many moments where directional effects kick in, and if you crank up the volume during the action scenes, things get sonically bombastic. English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles are included for those who desire them.

Bonus features include a handful of brief featurettes ("The Bible: Genesis," "The Cast of The Bible," "The Bible: Creation," "Scoring The Bible," "Believing in Miracles") that gloss over the inception of the film, casting, music composition, and other production tidbits; a montage of visual effects composites ("The Bible: Visual Effects"); and a music video for the song "Mary, Did You Know?" by Kenny Rogers and Wynona Judd.

I heartily recommend The Bible to anyone who loves old time Biblical epics, or wants to read the Bible but could use a cinematic cheat sheet. Although the visual effects aren't perfect—some truly awe inspiring, while others look as if the budget was being cut during filming—this is a production both Christians and secular audiences will find enthralling.

The Verdict

Not Guilty. As moving as it is awe inspiring.

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Scales of Justice

Video: 95
Audio: 97
Extras: 85
Acting: 87
Story: 86
Judgment: 90

Perp Profile

Studio: Fox
Video Formats:
• 1.78:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
Audio Formats:
• DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
• English (SDH)
• French
• Spanish
Running Time: 561 Minutes
Release Year: 2013
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Action
• Adventure
• Blu-ray
• Drama
• Historical
• Religious and Spiritual
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• Featurettes
• VFX Composite
• Music Video


• IMDb

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